We wrote Wednesday about beleaguered State Department employee Peter Van Buren's escalating attacks on his employer. Van Buren, a mid-level foreign service officer, wrote a book this year critical of the Iraqi reconstruction work he had participated in for the department, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. On Tuesday, he said the Department was investigating and threatening to terminate him for linking on his personal blog to documents first made available by WikiLeaks. Van Buren alleged the investigation was an attempt at retribution for the book. The State Department, for its part, isn't matching Van Buren's public criticisms with their own. "Regarding Mr. Van Buren, we do not discuss individual personnel matters," a State Department spokesman said in a statement to The Atlantic Wire today.
Since Tuesday, Van Buren has doubled down on his criticisms of the State Department's reconstruction efforts and their decision to investigate him, finding even more public venues to express his dissatisfaction. Yesterday, he published an item on Foreign Policy's web site listing some of the more ludicrous and misguided expenditures the State Department approved to "win the hearts and minds" of Iraqis. For instance, in the face of deep-seated tribal divisions, the department spent $22,500, Van Buren says, to stage an allegorical play about donkeys that would teach Iraqi audience members to put aside minor differences. "The production was staged at least once to my knowledge, with some coerced locals in reluctant attendance; political reconciliation did not spontaneously flower."